My Clueless First Friend 01 – March Graphic Novel of The Month.

A hit slice-of-life comedy manga series makes its English language debut this month in My Clueless First Friend. One lonely, gloomy fifth-grade girl is the target of her classmates’ relentless bullying and teasing – that is, until a new kid arrives on the scene. Friendly Takada is as clueless as he is well-meaning, but somehow he possesses the magic ability to start drawing “Grim Reaper” Nishimura out of her shell. As the elementary schoolers experience all the fun of a childhood summer together – from going to the pool to picking sunflowers to watching fireworks – an unusual friendship blossoms!

With the barrage of isekai (transported to another world) manga series that have recently been released, it’s always nice to see a strong slice-of-life or comedy manga break through. And My Clueless First Friend does just that. An anime series adaptation is also coming to Crunchyroll in April, so the timing of this release could not be any better.

An opposites attract style romance is well explored ground, but there is something particularly enduring with how it is handled in this series. Takada’s almost oblivious cheerfulness is very infectious and one can not help getting caught up in the charm of it all. This is a boy who is basically handed popularity on a plate, but he is preoccupied with his fascination with Nishimura to the point where he tunes everything else out. Nishimura’s confusion at this strange boy’s sudden interest in her brings a lot of the opening volume’s best moments whether it be Takada’s love of her “Grim Reaper” nickname or his desire to eat the curry she made in the hope he’ll get cursed.

Creator Taku Kawamura has a great sense of comic timing which is reflected in both his storytelling and artwork. His style ops for a more cartoony and less detailed approach which is well suited to this type of series. Most of the characters are very expressive and convey these characteristics with a less is more approach. Nishimura in particular exemplifies this – with her moody way of dressing and most of her upper face being covered with hair, yet her curiosity and happiness brought about by Takada’s peculiar antics always shining through.

My Clueless First Friend is a refreshing slice-of-life comedy that has a very sweet centre. Manga readers looking for a comedy with a lot of heart will eat this series right up. Those excited for the anime release should also not pass up a chance to get an early look.

My Clueless First Friend 01 is out now from Square Enix Manga (9781646092048, p/b, £16.99)

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